Monday, August 3, 2015
LYNN MANNING R.I.P.
Rutger told me Lynn was a poet and we should know each other so he introduced us and we became immediate friends after telling each other our stories. Lynn had grown up in a rough neighborhood in L.A. (if I remember correctly his mother shot the man she was living with there in later years) and standing at a bar one day when he was a young man the guy next to him said something Lynn didn't appreciate so Lynn, at least the way I remember him telling me, said something dismissive back and then as he reached for his drink saw out of the corner of his eye the guy pull out a gun and aim it at Lynn's head.
Lynn only had time to move his head back far enough that the bullet missed his brain but ended up stopping right behind his nose, between his eyes, where it stayed for the rest of his life and left him blind. At first, as he shared with me, he felt sorry for himself and sat around and got fat and depressed. But eventually he realized there was no going back and feeling sorry for himself wasn't getting him anywhere but drunk.
So he got in shape and into judo and within a short time became the blind heavyweight judo champion of the world! That's how Rutger heard of him and got him hired for the movie and then introduced him to me. I loved Lynn's poetry, which in those days he would "write" by dictating lines into a little tape recorder and then at readings would get up to the mic with the reorder plugged into one ear and recite his poems from the tape. Later he learned to recite them from memory. (Eventually he wrote a play about his life that brought him acclaim as well.)
We read often because I cofounded and co-ran a weekly poetry reading in L.A. called POETRY IN MOTION with Eve, and Lynn became a regular, as well as at other events I hosted on my own. I loved hanging out with him, and after I moved to Jersey in '99 stayed in touch through phone calls. Though when I learned of his passing tonight I realized I hadn't spoken with him in a few years and felt bad that I hadn't called. But he may have been unavailable as I learned he'd been suffering from the cancer that ended his life. Rest In Poetry my friend.
Here's a clip from of Lynn reading his masterpiece about his mother shooting her partner (you gotta get past my being in the shot to help with the mic and then his first short goof, but once he starts into the long poem stay with it for a unique ride with a unique man):